Jun

30

DowntownSeattle.com has recognized the Seattle waterfront as one of the area’s most notable locations. With dozens of neighborhoods there, many of which are home to waterfront houses near expansive Puget Sound or beautiful lakes such as Lake Washington or Lake Sammamish, which of these neighborhood communities is the best? There are many factors that can impact a buyer’s decision as to the best location to live, but these three neighborhoods are extremely popular choices for anyone who enjoys waterfront living. There are plenty of other great neighborhoods in and around Seattle to live in, but these stand out even among those, and here’s why.

South Lake Union

Among the neighborhoods in the Seattle metropolitan area, South Lake Union can boast many appealing qualities. South Lake Union has high walkability, or the ability to walk to local businesses, work, school, and recreation with ease. This accessibility heavily heightens the quality of life of South Lake Union’s residents, who can enjoy the waterfront lifestyle in Seattle with few obstacles. They can walk to a beach or a seafood shop, to their job, or to their neighbor’s party quickly and conveniently. South Lake Union has high quality waterfront property at a reasonable urban price, which easily places it as one of the top waterfront neighborhoods in Seattle.

Magnolia

Magnolia is another attractive choice for a prospective Seattleite. Magnolia is the second largest neighborhood in Seattle, and is in a prime location. From the Magnolia waterfront, there is a breathtaking view of Mount Rainier, the Puget Sound, and of course, the Seattle skyline. To have a waterfront home in Magnolia means to have a lifestyle of immersion in a community designed to be self sufficient and walkable. It is simple to find a great place to eat or a place to play among the prosperous Magnolia businesses. All in all, Magnolia has earned its place on the top Seattle waterfront neighborhood list because of its lifestyle: Magnolia residents live in luxury, with some wonderful things to see and places to walk to, all in one wonderful neighborhood.

Madison Park

Last but not least, Madison Park is also a great neighborhood to call home in Seattle. The waterfront homes in Madison Park are on the edge of Lake Washington with a beautiful view. Perhaps more importantly, the lake is so close that all water activities a resident could ever want, such as boating or swimming, are within a very reasonable walking distance. This is of the utmost importance to some, and it makes Madison Park the epitome of what it means to be a top Seattle waterfront neighborhood. Madison Park is upscale and has numerous restaurants, shops, and banks, as well as zoning for excellent Seattle schools nearby. A neighborhood like Madison Park is sure to please.

Though these three waterfront neighborhoods are on the list, there are easily another dozen that could be perfect for a buyer looking for waterfront real estate. All of them are great communities that cater well to the discerning homebuyer. WaterHavens has more information about a number of Seattle’s top neighborhoods for those looking to buy or sell.

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Jun

16

If someone asked you what you look for in a place to retire, what would you say? You’d probably say you want a place with a nice view, a place with fun things to do, and of course, a place with housing that’s affordable enough to have something left over for a good time. When it comes to Seattle, Belltown is the neighborhood that offers the best mix of benefits for retirees. Here’s a little bit about why Belltown was named on Money Magazine’s best place to retire list.

History of Belltown

For those who love history and tradition, Belltown is a good way to go. Because this neighborhood is close to downtown Seattle, it shares a rich early history with the major Seattle metropolitan area. William Nathanial Bell was the namesake for Belltown back in the 1850’s, as he owned the land that Belltown now occupies. It originally was a low-rent district that transitioned into a neighborhood of single-family cottages, some of which housed writers in residence. Around 1910, it became a burgeoning home to the movie industry dubbed Film Row, which lasted through the 1960s. It’s now known for a creative class of artists and musicians.

On the Waterfront

History isn’t the only feature of Belltown – there’s also some desirable geography. Anyone who’s getting older and looking to slow down from the fast pace of working life will increase your appreciation of the waterfront view Belltown provides. Not only is the waterfront location nice to look at it, but it’s also conveniently close to a host of exciting places that are just a walk away. Retirees generally have time on their hands to go exploring and experiencing new things, which is why Belltown is a great fit. It proudly features all kinds of trendy restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and nightclubs, as well as historic institutions like the grand Moore Theater concert hall.

You Can Afford It

It’s no secret that Seattle’s downtown real estate can get a little pricey. It’s also true waterfront real estate often carries a premium over property that’s further inland. With that said, you might be surprised at how affordable it is to find a place there along the waterfront. Some condos start at just a few hundred thousand dollars. If you want to put more money into your ideal condo or apartment space, you can get an amazing luxury space for one million dollars or more. What’s nice is the fact that Belltown caters to people of all different means, interests, and ages, so you’re sure to find something that makes you happy.

If you weren’t thinking a neighborhood in Seattle would be one of the best places to retire, think again. The incredible waterfront view and proximity to an incredible variety of activities and attractions make Belltown a wonderful choice for anyone who’s preparing to settle down for their golden years. Why not see if there’s a water view home in Belltown for you? When you’re relaxing on a loft overlooking gorgeous Puget Sound, you’ll be glad you did. If you want to search for a home in Belltown, talk to the WaterHavens team who specializes in finding that perfect waterfront retirement home.

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Jun

16

Homes on the Seattle area waterfront have a number of benefits: easy access to many amenities and fantastic views, among others. The houses, however, also can need specific maintenance compared to regular inland properties. While you are probably prepared for a storm event, you should know how to take care of your waterfront house for day-to-day maintenance as well. Use these tips to keep your property in good condition and find any issues before they cause major issues.

Watch for Corrosion

Salt in the water is damaging to many elements of your home. Generally, symptoms first appear on anything metal. If you utilize patio furniture, ensure it is covered in off-season. This heops prevent the salt from corroding it. Prior to covering it for a long period of time, power wash your furniture as well to remove any dirt. A detail many waterfront homeowners may forget about is their door lock. Even these can slowly rust and you may not notice until your key doesn’t slide in easily. These may need to be replaced more frequently.

Consider Area Carpets and Furniture Covers

Most people who live at a waterfront property are constantly inside and out. The outdoor activities in Seattle in the area are well renowned. This, however, causes sand and dirt to track throughout the house with your shoes and clothing.  Put area rugs in high traffic areas that you can shake out. Place covers on your furniture to be washed so the pieces last longer.

Monitor Your Humidity Levels

Waterfront homes near Puget Sound can have slightly higher humidity levels than other areas of Seattle. This needs to be monitored, especially during the summer when humidity peaks. Keep on top of this to prevent any mildew, mold, and peeling paint.  You can also add a dehumidifiers if the humidity level is constantly high.

Look for Pests

Like any home, if there are any small holes around the exterior of your home, you can run into problems with water ants, mice, or even nesting squirrels. Sometimes the natural beauty of an area can bring more “nature” to you than the same home in a small urban de-forested parcel, though usually nothing too unusual.  You may want to hire a professional company for yearly preventative steps.

Puget Sound contains 1, 400 miles of shoreline with over 300 islands. This means you have plenty of areas to choose from when buying your waterfront property. Though the home may take more maintenance, the benefits and views are well worth it. Talk to the professionals at Waterhavens to get started on your search.

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Jun

2

Over 500 residents live in a houseboat. It may seem like a small number, but it is the largest population in the country and, after Asia, the largest in the world. The houseboat population has been increasing especially with movies like ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ showcasing it. If you are thinking about owning a houseboat in Seattle, first consider the layout, costs, and other aspects of flat-bottomed boats.  Note that there are houseboats, house barges, and floating homes in Seattle, all of which have different nuances and classifications.

Houseboat Property Costs

Living on a houseboat has a significant advantage: lower costs. A smaller houseboat, around 30 to 40 feet, can run approximately $100,000. You then pay for the marina space the boat sits in. No matter what size houseboat you choose, you do not need to pay for Seattle real-estate taxes, trash collection, or landscaping costs. It should be noted, floating homes can run well over a million dollars for those wanting luxury. There are waterfront properties available for everyone’s budget, needs, and wants.

Houseboat Maintenance Costs

The maintenance of the houseboat is where it gets tricky because costs are often higher than a traditional home. Boats require a good bit of upkeep, but not necessarily more than if you tended your yard in a regular home. If you are a talented DIY-er, this may not be a problem. Otherwise, you may want a list of reputable professionals on hand.

Due to a number of issues that come with age, it is sometimes recommended to not purchase a houseboat over 25 years old. Along with potential structural issues, it is hard to find someone to finance it if you cannot pay out of pocket.

Finding a Dock Space

The popularity of Seattle houseboats is significantly increasing, leading some marinas to ban them. Some feel that the houseboats can contribute to waterfront pollution, schools systems, and other public needs without paying taxes toward these. The inner marinas, however, such as Lake Union are full of houseboats with personality. Dependent on the marina and amenities you choose, a dock space can rent for as little as $300 per month to over $1,500.

Though you can find a houseboat in Seattle for less than $100,000 by itself, the average cost will be much closer to a few hundred thousand. It gives you a larger living space, high quality finishes, and lets you live on the water while enjoying the views.

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May

19

Owning a Seattle waterfront vacation home has an appeal to almost everyone. The idea of waking up to enjoy a cup of coffee with views of the Puget Sound already makes you feel relaxed. It may not seem like an affordable option for some people, however, especially with the real estate market making improvements. Before you make your purchase, consider the pros and cons of owning a waterfront vacation home.

Renting Out the Vacation Home

The biggest benefit in buying a waterfront property is renting it out. Many homeowners don’t consider this option, but you can often pay your mortgage through the rent costs. Locals searching for a romantic getaway or travelers wanting somewhere to stay all look for the appeal of a waterfront house. Many Seattleites find their homes rented practically year round because the neighborhoods are so close to the amenities of the metro.

Maintenance Costs

Maintenance of a waterfront property is more expensive than others. If you choose a house near salt water, the salt spray can require some more home maintenance. Local weather can also impact the house, like anywhere. You will want to ensure you keep a good savings in place strictly for yearly repairs.

When You Buy a Vacation Home

If you decide to move forward and buy a vacation home by Puget Sound, there are a few ways to save a few dollars. You may want to, for example,

  • Practice seasonal maintenance issues like turning off water in winter and storing items
  • Buy a smaller house that is easier to maintain
  • Pay for a good insurance policy that includes flooding
  • Utilize a property management firm when renting out
  • Complete an inspection after each season to catch damage quickly
  • Consider constructing a new build with weather resistant materials
  • Hire professionals to clean or do yard maintenance during off-season

If you want a guaranteed place to get away, a Seattle vacation home may be just what you need. Speak with us to find the location and type of home suited to your needs. Waterhavens has prime property ready for you around Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and many other areas. With the best client satisfaction, the Waterhavens team will make it easier for you to sit back while you enjoy the waterfront views and that cup of coffee.

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May

5

There are countless reasons to want to move to Seattle, and different reasons appeal to different people. But almost everyone can agree that this list of the top ten reasons to move to the Seattle waterfront covers the most attractive aspects of this unique Washington city.

1. Beautiful Bodies of Water
Seattle is home to dozens of breathtaking lakes, rivers, and Puget Sound. These views bring people from around the world interested in owning waterfront real estate in Seattle, and tourists and residents alike constantly fall in love with the water. Being close to the water provides easy access to fun activities like boating and fishing, hobbies thousands of Seattleites enjoy every year.

2. Business is Booming
Seattle is growing rapidly, and both big corporations and small family businesses are prospering. Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing make their home here, and local restaurants and art galleries constantly bring tourists and locals to enjoy all that Seattle has to offer.

3. Sports are Popular
Not only are sports teams like the Seahawks, Sounders, and Mariners a big part of the culture of the area, but amateurs in all types of sports regularly practice and play their favorite sports. Whether it’s walking down to the waterfront for some windsurfing or playing some basketball with a group of friends, there are always fun ways to exercise and support your favorite sports in Seattle.

4. Four Seasons
Seattle boasts four varied seasons, and all are relatively mild compared to most other parts of the country. Enjoy a pleasant summer, cool fall, chilly but not freezing winter, and a reinvigorating spring.

5. Environmentally Friendly
It’s a well-known fact that Seattle is one of the most environmentally friendly metropolitan areas in the country. A high percentage of citizens bike to school and work, and if you select a nice location for your waterfront property, you can join the league of Seattle pedestrians who choose to stay active and help the environment at the same time.

6. Delicious and Varied Cuisine
Within walking distance from most waterfront homes, you’ll find a large number of restaurants that serve people with eclectic tastes. The Seattle cuisine originates from countries and cultures the world over, and no two dishes are the same. Seattle is the home of Starbuck’s coffee, and thanks to all the bodies of water, most waterfront property is adjacent to amazing seafood restaurants with tempting oysters and salmon.

7. Impressive Music Scene
Home to world-famous Nirvana, Macklemore, Jimi Hendrix, and many many more famous musicians, Seattle has grown to be more than simply grunge music. There are hotspots for all genres, and locals always love to see the latest band. Residents of a waterfront home can walk down to a beach concert near Lake Washington.

8. Amazing Sights to See
Seattle has some of the most impressive mountains in the United States that are home to breathtaking forests, waterfalls, and a view of the city itself. A quick hike up one of these mountains never disappoints, in either the Cascade Mountains or the Olympic Mountains.

9. Cultured People
The people of Seattle are generally educated and sophisticated, and enjoy the finer things, like the impressive extensive art collections in galleries and museums throughout the city.

10. Famous Landmarks
Famous sites like the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project, or EMP, call Seattle their home. It’s always great to be able to live near iconic places with cultural and historical significance.

There’s truly nothing like the Seattle waterfront scene. Whatever reason appeals most to you, you’ll find the waterfront in Seattle to be an amazing experience.

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Apr

21

Recently in the Puget Sound area, there was talk about new oil trains that are planned to run through parts of Washington State. Concerned homeowners are worried about the effect the trains will have on their communities. Right now, protesters in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia are delaying 11 miles of trains that could potentially clog the Pacific Northwest railway system every day.

 

Why Stop the Oil Trains?

Protesters are not only concerned about the eyesore and noise the trains would create. They’re also worried about potential spills and accidents the trains could cause. At full capacity, the trains would carry 785,000 barrels of oil every day. The trains would come from Alberta as well as North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming.

 

Currently, there are 10 proposed or on-the-way oil-by-rail projects planned for Washington State. Residents of the Puget Sound area and other parts of Washington will have a chance to learn more about the projects this April. Since July of last year, there was a steady stream of derailments along the train lines, most of them outside of Washington. Some residents, however, are concerned these derailments will increase in Washington if the trains are allowed to run through the state.

 

Environmental Issues

Washington has always been concerned and involved with environmental and climate issues in the past. Some residents of Puget Sound feel the oil industry may cause harm to the environment. Spilled oil can damage the environment and kill animals. The pollution caused by trains may also cause issues.

 

Public speaking events are to be conducted across Washington with focus in cities where the oil-by-rail projects are planned. At these meetings, people can share their concerns if they would like their city councils to take a stand and support a statewide moratorium on oil-by-rail shipping. City councils in both Spokane and Bellingham have made such resolutions. Protesters who plan to attend the latest community meeting in Seattle hope Gov. Jay Inslee also approves a resolution to “freeze all pending oil-by-rail projects until environmental and safety concerns have been addressed,” as noted in the Bainbridge Review.

 

The Puget Sound and waterfront cities throughout Washington might band together to stop the trains from running. Right now, it’s unclear how long it will take for the safety and environmental concerns to be addressed and people are unsure what will happen once the issues are taken care of. Either the oil-by-rail projects will be completed or the citizens of Washington will veto the projects. If this happens, the oil industry will be forced to find other states to comply and other avenues to transport oil.

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Apr

7

In 2014, a new program called Puget Sound Bike Share is coming to King County. This program enables residents to rent bicycles for long or short periods of time before dropping it back off to a docking station. These docking stations will be strategically located throughout the cities in King County to make renting and using the bicycles more convenient.

How Did the Program Start?

Bike sharing programs are nothing new. They’ve been around for years and over 30 different cities in the United States have similar programs. There are even over 200 programs worldwide. The Puget Sound Bike Share will be the first program in Washington State, though some nearby states have them. There is currently one, for example, in San Francisco and one due to begin in Portland.

The program is non-profit and ultimately relies on user-generated money as well as public and grant funding.  The program will also accept donations and private foundation funding as well. During the beginning phase, Puget Sound Bike Share will set up docking stations throughout Seattle and on the waterfront including Downtown, Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, and the University District.

How Can You Be a Part of Puget Sound Bike Share?

Once the docking stations and bicycles are ready, you can rent a cycle from any of the docking stations and use it to get around town. There will be three different forms of renting once the bikes become available. These include annual, monthly, and 24-hour memberships. It will be run similarly to city bus passes, but be much more affordable.

The stations are planned to be spaced out every two blocks or so. This means you won’t have to walk far to find a bike or return one to a docking station. Along with bikes, helmet vending machines will be located next to the stations in order to comply with helmet laws in King County and Seattle.

Is King County A Suitable Place for a Bike Share?

One question that emerged when putting together the Puget Sound Bike Share was location. Is King County a good location for a bike share program? Ultimately, it was decided that a bike share program would indeed benefit the area since biking is now a popular form of transportation. King County is actually home to the largest biking club in the country.

In addition to this, the cities in King County are bike friendly in their design and there have been no fatal bike crashes and few injury accidents. The last problem encountered was on one of Seattle’s famous hills, which are not always a joy to bike up and down. The Puget Sound Bike Share program dealt with this, however, by providing bikes with seven gears rather than the traditional three. Biking up and down hills will be much easier for riders.

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Mar

24

One of the joys of owning waterfront real estate is your proximity to the beauty and recreation made possible by the water itself. However, in a generally small portion of waterfront locations there is the potential for floods. Waterfront property owners in these locations have long been able to rely on flood insurance for peace of mind and for help when the worst happens.  But last year the 2012 Biggert-Waters law went into effect, which left some homeowners reeling over flood insurance premium increases. Thankfully, Congress has crafted and passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act to help waterfront property owners by correcting the problems that the Biggert-Waters law created.

Why the Biggert-Waters Law Was Created

The National Flood Insurance Program is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees dozens of private insurance companies that offer flood insurance coverage to waterfront property owners. In the past, the income from premiums failed to cover the program’s costs during years in which widespread major flooding occurred. In fact, after the U.S. was hit by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005, FEMA had to temporarily stop making payments on legitimate claims due to lack of funds. The Biggert-Waters law set out to address the National Flood Insurance Program’s $24 billion debt by gradually phasing out flood insurance policy subsidies.  But when the law was enacted, it became apparent that for many waterfront homeowners the effect was not gradual at all.

How the New Act Helps Waterfront Property Owners

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act will implement the following:

  • –     Set a limit on annual flood insurance premium rate increases
  • –     Repeal the “property sales trigger” that allowed higher premiums to be set when property was sold, which Realtors feared was depressing the value of some waterfront real estate
  • –     Repeal the “new policy sales trigger,” which allowed higher premiums to be set if a waterfront property owner chose a different policy or went to a different insurance provider for coverage
  • –     Refund premiums to homeowners who overpaid when then the 2012 Biggert-Waters law went into effect

This new act will still address the concerns of the original Biggert-Waters law, but will do so in a way that is more manageable to those who live on the waterfront. The focus is on making this a gradual transition that affected homeowners can plan for, rather than an unexpectedly large bill that is immediately due.

What This Means for You

This new law, which is expected to be signed by the President when it reaches the White House, will still result in eliminating subsidies and addressing debt created by the National Flood Insurance Program. However, existing waterfront property owners in the Seattle area and those who are buying waterfront real estate will still benefit from the program as it is gradually phased out rather than being suddenly taken away. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that not only are you covered by flood insurance, if you are in an area where you even desire to have flood insurance, but you will also be better able to afford insurance in the future for your waterfront home.

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Feb

10

People may assume that managing and developing the land along Puget Sound and nearby lakes should mainly be the concern of those who own waterfront real estate, but Seattle Mayor Ed Murray clearly sees it as a priority for the entire community. The Mayor recently announced the establishment of a new Office of the Waterfront and appointed Jared Smith as the program director to coordinate city initiatives along the water’s edge, including projects that impact the city’s transportation, planning and development, parks, and public utilities departments. But why is the mayor putting so much effort into such a geographically small portion of the city? In a word, impact.

During the 2013 mayoral race, Seattle Times columnist Jonathan Martin stated that the waterfront would become “the most lasting legacy of the next Seattle mayor,” citing the nearly $1 billion the city has earmarked for development activities along its shoreline in addition to the funds already being directed to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The strength of Murray’s appointees shows that the Office of the Waterfront is gearing up to have a decisive impact on Seattle’s waterfront. Smith previously led operations for a company responsible for design and technical work for the new Highway 99 tunnel. The mayor also pulled from the ranks of those who worked on Safeco Field, appointing Ken Johnsen and Victor Oblas as project manager for the seawall and chief construction engineer, respectively.

The Office of the Waterfront will be positioned to make decisions that will reverberate throughout the downtown and waterfront areas. As rough plans and concepts become finalized and new guidelines are established for redevelopment along waterways, those who own waterfront real estate may be subject to new covenants prohibiting buildings that exceed certain heights or don’t meet population density standards. And all Seattle residents will likely be interested in the “new” 20 acres of public land that will become available on Puget Sound’s deep water port when the viaduct comes down in 2016. That open land creates an opportunity for pocket beaches, promenades, and green space that will enable more locals and tourists to take part in the many fun activities to be found along Seattle’s waterfront.

Creating new public access beaches and stimulating growth and development along Puget Sound will not only increase the interest in and value of waterfront property, it will provide more beauty and pleasure for everyone in the greater community. Having such a vibrant, vital area so closely tied to the city’s downtown will not only boost tourism but, when done in a thoughtful and deliberate way, will mitigate potential negative impacts that increased tourism may have on residents. Small wonder, then, that the mayor has made waterfront development such a priority.

As Martin wrote in his column, “This is a think-big moment for Seattle.” It’s also an exciting time for anyone interested in Seattle waterfront real estate.

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Dec

31

Seattle is composed of rich and diverse communities that offer their own holiday celebrations. While many people are celebrating around the downtown area, waterfront houses have family-friendly activities to help you celebrate as well. Whether you want to watch a light tour, take a cruise on Puget Sound, or venture on the Great Ferris Wheel, you can find Christmas fun along the waterfront that appeals to everyone.

Ride the Ducks Light Tour

Originally crafted for use in World War II, the Ducks are part automobile, part boat. The Ride the Ducks Tour takes you on a drive around highlighted parts of Seattle and then through the Lake Union waterfront area by boat. After Thanksgiving, the company offers a Holiday Duck Tour to view Seattle’s best-decorated areas such as Westlake Center and Toyland Village by Pier 57. Along with lights, you will enjoy the outgoing fun personality of your tour Captain. He will have you singing classic Christmas tunes like ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’ while sharing holiday facts. This tour lasts 40 minutes and is available for all ages.

Christmas Ship Festival

Since 1949, the Christmas Ship Festival has been cruising the Puget Sound waterfront communities to offer a relaxing celebration. There are three ways to celebrate: aboard a cruise ship, on your own boat, or from the shore. While aboard ship, you will listen to a choir as they carol to each of the 45 waterfront communities. Tours are available that include dinner or, for the younger crowd, morning Santa brunches. If you have your own boat, you can add lights and join in the Christmas Ship Parade. Each year, Seattle aims to have the largest floating holiday parade in the world. You can help make this a success while enjoying the view of lights from the water. The combination of the night waters and twinkling shore is made for memories.

Even those on the shore can take part in the Christmas Ship Festival. Each waterfront community in the Puget Sound area offers a place to view the boats as they pass by. You will hear a 20-minute session of Christmas caroling from the ship and others on land. There is a hospitality tent and a large bonfire to keep you warm as you mingle with others.

Ferris Wheel for the New Year

The Great Ferris Wheel has recently been added to the attractions in downtown Seattle waterfront. While it is currently open, you can bring in the New Year with a special dinner and ride. There is an early and late dinner, each taking place at The Fisherman’s with a three-course meal and party favors. Then, you can sip some champagne while you take in the night views and celebrations from the Ferris Wheel. This is a great way to ring in the New Year while admiring the views of waterfront homes and activity. Photos are included with your purchase.

Seattle’s diverse landscape gives you opportunity to celebrate the holidays in a way other cities cannot. When you want take in the holiday waterfront, options are available for everyone. Make it a romantic evening on the Great Wheel or enjoy the lights with your entire family. The Seattle waterfront can helps you create memories to last whether you are looking for a waterfront home or evening out.

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Dec

5

As one of the largest and most diverse cities in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is both a forward-looking city and a city with a rich and vibrant history to its name. While much of the city’s history is centered around people and events, it’s also important to note the area’s unique geography has had its own role to play. Now, that crossroads between the past and the future is being brought to the fore with major changes to Seattle waterfront’s seawall, known as the Elliot Bay Seawall. Here’s a taste of where the Seawall came from and what it’s going to be like in the future.

History of the Seawall

Seattle has always been a city with a close relationship to the sea. Early on, when Seattle was still just a settlement, there were miles of sandy beaches, forested bluffs, marshes and shoreline separating the waterfront from the water. As the city grew, it became clear that a few isolated piers wouldn’t be enough to protect and support the bustling waterfront, from the businesses to the waterfront houses . The seawall was first started back in 1916, with significant construction occurring between 1934 and 1936. Thanks to a solid seawall and a level shoreline, the greater Seattle metropolitan area became a shipping and industry hub in the Northwest.

Deterioration in the Seawall

The Seawall played a huge part in the success of Seattle. Unfortunately, the wall itself has deteriorated over the course of more than 70 years. Largely built from old piles of timber in the first place, the wall has major infrastructure problems that need to be addressed. In particular, it has fallen prey to gribbles, which are very small marine borers that eat and hollow out the wood of the seawall. It’s been a victim of water erosion from the tides, as well as the simple fact that it’s been around for decades. Recognizing that the Seawall might not be able to carry on its job, the city is launching a project to restore and add new functionality to the seawall along the waterfront.

Coming Changes to the Seawall

Dubbed the Core Projects, Seattle can expect to see a brand-new promenade for pedestrians, a two-way track for cyclists, and a new Alaskan Way Viaduct that’s being designed to handle all kinds of traffic via tunnel and ground-level streets. Other features of the changes include some new paths and parks, multiple rebuilt public piers, and more. The brand-new seawall is being designed to last for 75 years, and it will stand up to current earthquake standards. The wall is also going to be built in such a way to accommodate nature and the environment, with the restoration of a functional salmon migration corridor and other considerations intended to minimize the environmental impact of the seawall.

It’s a great time to be living and working on the Seattle waterfront. These changes show that even as the city moves forward, everything it does is rooted in a proud and enduring legacy.

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Nov

21

If anyone were to tell you that the greater Seattle metropolitan area doesn’t have a thriving waterfront community, all you would have to do to prove them wrong is mention the new housing projects that are on their way. The fact is, among Seattle’s many biggest attractions and perks, the city’s proximity to water features like Lake Washington and Puget Sound is a huge boon. Homeowners in the area have plenty to appreciate about the lively nature of the waterfront, including a wide variety of quality parks, shops, restaurants, gardens, and one of a kind landmarks and features. Fortunately, the development of new housing makes it possible for more people to enjoy one of the best things Seattle has to offer.

Upcoming Housing Projects

The two major housing projects in Seattle include a seven-story apartment building and a 16-story residential building, both on picturesque waterfront sites. It’s important to note that the location of the seven-story building was just recently the home of one of the oldest businesses in Seattle. Known as Argens Safe and Lock Company, the business has been in operation since 1880, founded by immigrant Henry Argens. Fortunately, it’s a unique opportunity to live in a fantastic location that residents simply didn’t have access to for more than 100 years.

The Housing Plans

Following the decision to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a 26-block promenade, real estate developers weren’t far behind with interest in capitalizing on the newfound opportunity. The companies in charge of these two new waterfront home projects are Goodman Real Estate and Mack Urban. The two developers aren’t strangers to waterfront property development, with Goodman having leased a building of 16 stories that was fully leased within seven months after completion. For the upcoming project, Goodman is planning to tear down the mid-20th century Argens building to allow for construction of brand new apartments, mostly one bedroom units.

Preparing for the Future

What does all of this mean for people interested in waterfront property in the Seattle area? It means that now is a great time to look into finding some space there, because demand is sure to be high. For those who have always thought about buying a home on the waterfront, leasing a unit in an upcoming waterfront residential building is a good way to test it out and see how you like it. The whole affair is also indicative of the fact that Seattle is continuously rebuilding itself, with old buildings and developments making way for new ones. For better or worse, the Seattle waterfront scene keeps changing, bringing with it plenty of attractive opportunities for new experiences.

In the end, the seven-story project at 80 S. Main St. and the 16-story project at 1301 Western Ave. represent the potential to enjoy features in a location that you couldn’t have come by until now. You can rest assured that the waterfront community in Seattle continues to evolve, thrive, and eventually, to reinvent itself in new and exciting ways.

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Oct

21

There’s a lot about the city of Seattle that’s special, but one of its most exciting and enduring features is the presence of so many pristine lakes and other bodies of water. From Lake Washington to Puget Sound, the greater Seattle Metropolitan Area offers a lot to appreciate when it comes to owning a waterfront home. Waterfront property owners get the benefits of a gorgeous view, a convenient new mode of transportation, and close access to downtown Seattle and a thriving business district. One good example of life in a waterfront community is an upcoming family event in the spirit of Halloween.

Trick or Treat

Kids have it good in Seattle. Not only do the little ones get the opportunity to trick or treat days ahead of Halloween, but they also have a wide variety of places to visit. On Sunday, October 27, from 11 AM to 5 PM, trick-or-treaters can visit the Seattle waterfront and get candy from the businesses there for free. The businesses that will be participating are located between Ferry Terminal and Bell Harbor Conference Center. On top of the free candy, the trick-or-treaters and their families can enjoy free parking on the street because it’s on a Sunday.

Other Festive Events

As if several hours of free candy from businesses along the waterfront weren’t enough, there are more events happening in the area. You can dedicate your weekend to the Halloween holiday by stopping by the Seattle Aquarium. The aquarium is putting on a special event called Aquarium Halloween 2013, and it features fun events like underwater pumpkin carving, face painting, games, and more. Also on October 27, from 11 AM to 1 PM, is a Seattle Fire Department show and tell. It’s clear that there’s no shortage of activity and festivities in downtown Seattle along the waterfront this year.

The Seattle Waterfront

The Seattle waterfront is one of the most memorable and captivating neighborhoods in Seattle. Along with the Seattle Aquarium, it features a variety of restaurants, souvenir shops, and more. You can experience one of the greatest pleasures of having access to the waterfront by simply walking along the pier and admiring the view of Elliott Bay. You can get even more up close to the water view by taking a scenic ferry ride. It calls to mind the kind of view that a waterfront home owner can enjoy every day, as well as the kind of convenience they get to visit Seattle’s bustling downtown business communities.

 

Along with some truly breathtaking views, residential waterfront property in Seattle offers several perks, including peace, prestige, and easy access to the action through transportation like the King County Water Taxi or ferries. With the ability to tap into a thriving and generous business community, waterfront residents can easily take advantage of some of the greatest benefits that Seattle has to offer. Be sure to take advantage of the one of them yourself when October 27 rolls around. Early trick or treating and Aquarium Halloween 2013 are just some of the many events that remind people why Seattle is a fantastic place to live.

 

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Sep

25

There’s no doubt that people come to the Seattle area because they love the sights. For a city with such dense urban development, as well as luxury waterfront real estate, the greater Seattle metropolitan area features a staggering variety of natural sights and wonders that locals and tourists alike can enjoy. From boat tours on one of the community’s many bodies of water to peeks at exotic plants in the botanical gardens, celebration of nature is a fixture of Seattle culture. One of the enduring and historically significant sites in the Seattle area is Burien’s Three Tree Point Indian Trail. Here’s what makes this such a memorable feature.

Historical Three Tree Point Community

If you want a sense of how majestic waterfront land in Seattle can be, start by visiting the Burien Indian Trail in the Three Tree Point luxury waterfront community. This secluded and quaint waterfront community lies on the west-facing shores of gorgeous Puget Sound, located in Burien. Historically, the trail hearkens back to an era before there were roads, when there were just narrow public walkways between homes. Summer home vacationers would visit the community, arriving at a long-gone dock by the tip of Three Tree Point on Seattle’s Mosquito Fleet boats. This path was reportedly once approximately followed by Native Americans as a shoreline passage around the point too, though accounts of that vary. People have unearthed artifacts in this area during construction projects, marking the Burien Indian Trail as a natural historical marker for Seattle’s past.

The View from Burien Indian Trail

History buffs might enjoy the trail for its association with the history of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, but nature lovers will have plenty to appreciate as well. As you pass by each waterfront home in this neighborhood, with some above the trail and others below it, you’ll spy Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountain range. You’ll also see an incredible view of the beach on the south side trail, as well as a more tree-filtered view on the longer north side. Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the trail is that you could have a completely different experience on the way back during a round trip journey. It’s always a unique adventure traversing this trail.

The Real Estate Around Burien Indian Trail

For those who like to witness luxury, there’s nothing quite like the waterfront property in this community that lies nestled against Puget Sound. There are lower waterfront lots and upper water view lots lining the six-foot wide public trail, including some Puget Sound homes that can be accessed from the road above to the personal solitude at the water’s edge by walking the trail or by using stairs and trams. Some homes are lavish beach houses perched a short distance from the water. This is an affluent and friendly community that’s sure to capture your imagination. For those enjoying life in Three Tree Point, they can walk the beach at low tide and walk the forested trail at high tide. So many options to stroll, visit neighbors, exercise, and show guests around.

Clearly, the view and access you get from the Burien Indian Trail is something entirely unique to the area. Few places can combine history, nature, and luxury into such a comprehensive Seattle experience. Whether you’re just visiting or you’ve lived here for a while and haven’t had a chance to walk the Burien Indian Trail yourself, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. It’s a refreshing experience unlike any other.

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Aug

26

In Washington State, and the Seattle area in particular, real estate has been booming. With a healthy jobs market and plenty of great locations still available, it’s no surprise that buyers are snapping up homes as they become available. One of the most attractive features of the greater Seattle metropolitan area is its waterfront property, which is bordered by Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, and the Puget Sound, among other bodies of water. Thanks to an array of features, including a gorgeous view and convenient transportation options, waterfront property continues to be a desirable choice for Washington residents. Where the market really shines, however, is in its luxury waterfront real estate.

A New Olson Kundig Home

As a shining beacon of what you can find on the waterfront, there’s a new waterfront home available from legendary Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects. The home is available for $5.895 million, and it comes with all of the niceties and amenities you would expect with that kind of price tag, such as tall ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, custom millwork, columns, and an open concept floor plan. It even combines indoor and outdoor living by providing a dock with boatlift for your boat, terraces on the waterfront, and a large balcony off of the massive master suite to overlook the water of Lake Washington. This is just one example of the kind of luxury available on the waterfront in Seattle.

The Locale of Luxury Waterfront Real Estate

It’s one thing to buy a nice property on the waterfront, but it’s another thing entirely to buy something based on the location itself. Fortunately, waterfront property like the new Olson Kundig home is located in the prestigious Washington Park neighborhood. This area is known for many of Seattle’s most desirable waterfront locations, as well as elegant streets and famed residences. If you look for a waterfront home in this particular neighborhood, you’ll be in good company, as many of Seattle’s power brokers live in this community’s enormous and stylish waterfront houses. Of course, there are other waterfront communities throughout Seattle that offer plenty of perks, such as close proximity to the heart of Seattle and access to amazing cafes and shops.

Future Prospects for Seattle Real Estate

In general, the outlook for Seattle real estate is good. It has been outperforming the nation, with property prices up by over 15 percent compared to a year ago, according to Zillow. At the same time, bank-owned home sales make up less than 10 percent of total sales, which means the local real estate market is rebounding nicely. With the luxury of some of these waterfront homes, it’s clear that there’s still healthy demand in the area. If you’re interested in an attractive home with a fantastic view, and one that also happens to be a great investment, then it just might be worth your while to look into some quality waterfront real estate in one of the bustling Lake Washington communities in the greater Seattle metropolitan area.

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Jul

16

One of the most picturesque and exciting features of the Seattle area is its trademark waterfront real estate, complete with floating homes and houseboats. The city’s Lake Union and Portage Bay neighborhoods are home to a thriving community of waterfront houses and homeowners. These homeowners enjoy a fantastic view of Seattle water, as well as easy access to downtown Seattle. Even better, the area is privy to highlights that aren’t found elsewhere, such as Lake Union Park’s FarmBoat floating market. This attraction, held on the historic steamship known as Virginia V, has a storied tradition and a lot of charm.

A Brief History of FarmBoat Floating Market
When it comes to Seattle’s sites, waterfront attractions boast some of the longest histories around, and the FarmBoat Floating Market is no exception. The market is held aboard the long-lived Virginia V and docked at Lake Union Park Wharf, where it harkens back to another age. Around the turn of the 20th century, shipping vessels of steam and sails were the transportation of choice for agricultural goods. Hundreds of ships just like the Virginia V used to travel to and from Puget Sound to move farm goods around before there were trucks and highways. A floating time capsule, the Virginia V captures that unique old-world atmosphere and makes it available to Seattle locals and tourists alike.

The Attraction of Lake Union’s FarmBoat Floating Market
Like the water taxi and water-based firefighters, the floating market is a distinct fixture of the waterfront community. Market visitors can stop by the FarmBoat Floating Market to browse local produce and specialty foods, enjoy a scenic lunch, and even pick up a bit more knowledge about this fascinating bit of Seattle history, such as how the Virginia V once transported farm products from Vashon Island to Pike Place Market way back in 1922. In terms of local heritage and tradition, the FarmBoat Floating Market does a great job of shedding some light on this interesting locale. Even better, the entire experience is available free of charge, which is always a draw when trying to decide which of Seattle’s many attractions to see.

Placing FarmBoat Floating Market in Context
Lake Union FarmBoat Floating Market is managed by the Urban Public Waterfront Association, or UPWA. This organization is a non-profit with the mission of connecting people to the local maritime environment through water-centric events and activities. This alone shows how big a role the waterfront plays in Seattle’s culture and historical traditions. Ultimately, the Floating Market is a great choice for learning more about the area and experiencing what draws people to Seattle’s waterfront property. Whether visitors want to see the FarmBoat Floating Market as a slice of Seattle’s waterfront community, as a living relic of a bygone era, as a compelling shopping destination, or as a great vantage point for admiring Lake Union and the distinctive downtown Seattle skyline, FarmBoat Floating Market is a destination of choice. It has earned its place as a one of a kind attraction in Seattle.

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Jul

2

The Seattle, Washington area is home to a unique and interesting feature in the form of floating homes. Because of the location of bodies of water like the Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and many more, there’s a unique opportunity for homeowners not only to buy waterfront real estate, but also to live in floating homes on the water itself. Even better, many of these homes are located close to downtown Seattle, making them a highly attractive place to settle with a view of the water that can’t be beat. In celebration of this Seattle hallmark, the Seattle Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in South Lake Union is showcasing an exhibit called Still Afloat, which focuses on the subject of floating homes.

The Diverse Waterfront Neighborhood
For a number of years, the neighborhood of floating homes on Lake Union and Portage Bay has engaged in some fairly tumultuous history. There have been land use battles, evictions, and a host of political and economic challenges to the very existence of these floating homes. Recent changes have come, some of which enhance the stability and value of Seattle’s floating homes, others of which threaten to erase the waterfront property community itself. Fortunately, through it all, the iconic Seattle image of the houseboat has endured, and so has the thriving and diverse community on Lake Union and Portage Bay.

Still Afloat Exhibit
Billed as a contemporary history of Seattle’s floating homes, the Still Afloat exhibit is a unique look at the history of this Seattle trademark. The temporary Museum of History and Industry exhibit features images from the past, complete with accounts of what life is like in the floating waterfront home community. The exhibit includes everything from photographs and video interviews to underwater film and a scale model of a floating home, which reveals the technology that makes floating homes possible. Perhaps most importantly, the exhibit is a celebration of the community and its contribution to making Seattle the vibrant and storied metropolis that it has become.

Still Afloat Adds to Seattle Waterfront Community
For those intrigued by floating homes and their Seattle waterfront community, Still Afloat is an all-encompassing experience that’s perfect for Seattle tourists, locals, and even floating homeowners and residents themselves. It will run from June 15 until November 3, 2013, and it will be located in the Linda and Ted Johnson Family Community Gallery at the Museum of History and Industry. You’ll have a rare opportunity to see the sights and hear the sounds of life in this unique community, as well as witnessing the stories of residents who can track the changes in the community over the years. If a trip to Still Afloat doesn’t fully quench your thirst for floating homes, you can also look at the Seattle Floating Homes Association which includes great information and features current plus past newsletters about the community and its lifestyle.

There’s truly nothing like the houseboats community in Seattle, and the museum’s Still Afloat exhibit is a limited-time opportunity to take a glimpse into this fascinating piece of Washington history.

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Jun

18

There’s a unique and fun attraction in the Seattle area known as Ride the Ducks. The Duck rides have a long history as an essential tourist attraction, cruising past the city of Seattle and through the Lake Union waterfront community. The company describes its rides as a “party that floats,” coming with an eccentric captain who provides narration about the scenery as part of the tour. During the summer, the business really picks up, with more than 150 entrances and exits of Lake Union over the course of a 10-hour day. Now, the Duck boats are looking to dock at a new home that’s just 100 feet away from the houseboats in Lake Union.

A Disruption to the Community
Eastlake residents clearly respect and appreciate the role of the Ride the Ducks attraction, but they have recently expressed concerns over the appearance of a ramp that’s so close to their houseboats and waterfront property. Brian Tracey, the owner of Ride the Ducks, has met with the neighbors on at least two occasions to assuage their concerns about both the noise, safety, and pollution of a new Lake Union access point nearby. They have some valid worries, as the World War II-era boats run on diesel and would be active for many hours every day.

An Interesting Rebuttal
At the same time, Brian Tracey and his Ride the Ducks offer another side to the story. The particular area under consideration is actually an abandoned dock that could benefit from some new construction. Interestingly, the area was already zoned for maritime industrial use, so it’s not without precedent for the site to be home to a structure like a public boat ramp. In addition, the efforts could beautify the area, such as the overgrown street edge that’s already there. The other major concern is that the water traffic would get continually backed up without the additional point of access.

What Happens Next with the Ducks
Both sides of the debate have good points. On the one hand, Lake Union’s floating homes, houseboats, and waterfront houses are a beautiful and unique feature of the Seattle area. Many of these waterfront real estate owners paid a premium for the privilege of having a serene place to live, and it could be damaging to their way of life to have a constant stream of Duck boats streaming in and out of the nearby boat ramp. On the other hand, Ride the Ducks is a key attraction with a tradition of its own, and there didn’t appear to be anything illegal in how Brian Tracey purchased the property or intends to use it. The matter is before the Department of Planning and Development, with the Parks Board of Commissioners having voted back in February to oppose the entry ramp. The case is continuing to develop, but it’s a striking example of how scarce and special waterfront land is in the Seattle area.

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May

20

Beautiful waterfront home for sale with scenic views.

New Burien Three Tree Point WaterHavens listing

Just a few months ago, there was an online auction house for a 1927-vintage fireboat “Alki.” This special boat was the senior member of four boats that comprised the Seattle Fire Department’s Marine Emergency Response Team. This boat had served the Seattle community well, but it had reached the point where it couldn’t keep up with the demands of modern technology and became an icon for a bygone era instead. While it was a bittersweet time for Seattleites to see a boat with an 86-year history go, it’s just one more reminder of what makes waterfront real estate in Seattle such a special feature of the Washington metropolis. How many other places can boast water-based traffic like water taxis and fireboats?

Retiring the Fireboat “Alki”
The retirement of “Alki” coincided with the recent acquisition of some new boats. “Engine One” was added to the fleet in 2006, and “Leschi” was built in 2007. In addition, the “Chief Seattle” was renovated and given an additional twenty years, making it possible to auction off one of the most enduring pieces of Seattle history. Like most things above 80 years of age, the fireboat could boast plenty of interesting stories, such as the time it was able to help save a commercial sea captain’s home below Magnolia Bluff. The most important part of the story was that the “Alki” was able to get the job done when firefighters on land weren’t able to reach the flames. With plenty of stories like that all along the coast, it was like the waterfront community had to say goodbye to an old friend.

Fireboats for West Seattle Waterfront Real Estate
Along the waterfront coastline is a thriving community full of condos, homes, public parks, shops, and restaurants. Because land traffic can only come from the other direction, water-based firefighters are a staple of various Seattle communities that border Lake Washington and the Puget Sound. These fireboats are even more important for waterfront homeowners with properties that don’t have direct drive-up access. For example, some waterfront houses are walk-down or tram-accessed properties, both of which are difficult to reach quickly from land in the case of an emergency.

The Future of Fireboats
Because of the two new boats and the retrofitted “Chief Seattle,” even more security is now provided for Seattle area waterfront property. Unlike the “Alki,” which was still using decades-old technology for firefighting, the new fireboats are a major step forward in speed and power, as well as the major upgrades to the “Chief Seattle.” For fires, speed and power are often the deciding factor in how much damage can be avoided, and fortunately, the “Leschi” doesn’t disappoint. Stationed in Fire Station 5 on Elliott Bay, this primary firefighting vessel can travel at 14 knots and fight fires with 22,000 gallons of water per minute. While the “Marine One” is about half as long as the “Leschi,” it can actually travel more than twice as fast, making it a fast attack option. With new technology on the fireboats, it can only be even safer now for waterfront real estate owners.

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May

6

    Elegant living room with stunning puget sound views in Seattle area home for sale.

Water views from Seattle area home for sale.

Getting around Seattle is one of the biggest concerns for a lot of local residents. Traffic can get pretty congested along the major thoroughfares. Many commuters would probably relish the prospect of being able to skip all of that traffic on the road and arrive at work or home almost immediately, but that is obviously not something that’s possible for most Seattle drivers. Fortunately for some lucky Seattleites, however, it just so happens that there is an enticing transportation option for residents in West Seattle. While those living on the east side generally have to rely on either the toll-bridge Interstate 520 or non-toll I-90 to get downtown, West Seattle residents are able to cut across Elliot Bay on the King County Water Taxi.

Getting to Seattle
The big benefit for West Seattle residents who want to get to Seattle is that they can get downtown across the water using the King County Water Taxi. This useful service features a direct route from Seacrest Park in West Seattle over to Pier 50 on the downtown Seattle waterfront. The time it takes to cross is only about 10 minutes, and it’s open to people with bicycles for no extra charge. This unique situation is available to West Seattle residents in Puget Sound homes, and it’s one of simplicity and luxury. When passengers in the water taxi arrive at Pier 50 downtown, they can disembark and walk around the streets without having to worry about the cost or inconvenience of parking.

West Seattle Waterfront Real Estate
The waterfront coastline of West Seattle runs along the mouth of Elliot Bay and features gorgeous beaches and a satisfying mix of private property and public parks. Real estate consists of attractive condos and contemporary homes as well as mature homes. While the area of West Seattle itself is an enjoyable expanse in its own right, full of cafes and shops, many residents with a waterfront home in West Seattle have to go to work downtown. Others like the greater variety of shopping or entertainment options downtown. Either way, one of the main attractions of living in West Seattle is the amazing waterfront property, a view of Puget Sound, and the area’s proximity to the heart of Seattle.

Commute from the Waterfront
With so many reasons to travel to downtown Seattle, it’s fortunate that there’s a quick commute option in the King County Water Taxi, but the presence of Puget Sound and Elliot Bay is a double-edged sword. If it were land there instead, residents would have a direct route for driving. Instead, the water taxi service represents the only straight shot from West Seattle to downtown Seattle. Otherwise, residents have to go around using the West Seattle Bridge, which can result in a commute of 45 minutes to an hour during peak traffic hours. On the plus side, West Seattle and its residents in waterfront houses are geographically quite close to downtown, so there are a lot of viable commuting options, and the King County Water Taxi really makes it a great place to settle.

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Jan

22

The Shoreline Master Program is getting updated in many municipalities around Washington state, in accordance with Washington law and Department of Ecology requirements. One of the more controversial and public topics revolved around how to address the floating homes, house boats, and house barges that are primarily centered around Lake Union, Portage Bay, and the Ship Canal. Are they legal? Do they meet SMP requirements for proper use of shoreline resources? Is gray water and black water being properly removed? What are the differences between the three classifications of floating residences in Seattle, and how should each be addressed for any updates to the SMP? These and many other questions were raised.

The local liveaboard community quickly rose to the occasion and gathered support in ensuring that their homes were not threatened. A combination of good intentions and misunderstandings of actual implications were mixed together to form sometimes passionate responses. Local media coverage was extensive, and generally pointed out that these were people’s homes being discussed. The iconic landscape of “Sleepless in Seattle” Lake Union became a romantic rallying point.

Seattle’s Shoreline Master Program was just unanimously passed by the Seattle City Council. In summary, most pre-existing uses for floating homes, house boats, and house barges were grandfathered in and all liveaboard owners can rest easy. Future development is much more restricted, so it makes the existing homes effectively more valuable due to government-limited future supply.

Summary of changes:

  • Floating homes: There is a new registration program and future development standards.
  • House boats / vessels: New clearer standards were enacted regarding the types of permitted vessels, but pre-existing residential uses are grandfathered in as noncomforming uses that can continue plus be repaired/reconstructed as needed.
  • House barges: The 34 pre-approved Seattle house barges can continue on as they are, with the clarification that discharge of gray water must meet the requirements set in 1992 for these homes.

Overall it ended up as a good balance between protecting the property rights and values of existing owners of floating residences while also taking into account more restrictive requirements for future new construction of similar residences that will meet current environmental regulations.

Seattle Lake Union floating homes with sailboat and city skyline

Floating homes on Seattle’s Lake Union


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Jan

22

The Seattle City Council approved its long-underway revision to the Shoreline Master Program (SMP). These regulations pertain to buildings, homes, uses, and construction along the city’s waterways.  Any updates can create controversy among competing factions, as was the case this time too.

The Seattle Times summarized changes to the SMP as including “an allowance for building boats for Washington State Ferries, a provision that fueling stations must be for boats only, limits on signs in the shoreline area and restrictions on pesticides and fertilizers”.

I provide a more detailed analysis and update regarding the discussions around houseboats, house barges, and floating homes in a separate post here.

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Jan

15

The Supreme Court decided in a 7-2 ruling that a residence which floats on the water – and which is obviously constructed to serve as a residence – should be treated under the regulations for houses and not vessels. This is important in some scenarios because home owner protection regulations and admiralty law have different levels of protections and uses. Real estate laws are generally considered to be more protective of home owner rights, and they would have helped the defendant in the Supreme Court case had his home been considered a house by local government officials.

The Seattle Floating Homes Association was supportive of the decision. However, this does somewhat “muddy the waters” regarding some of the recent Shoreline Master Program (SMP) discussions regarding which regulations Lake Union’s house boat communities should uphold. House boats are classified as vessels, they have steering and propulsion (though rarely, if ever, use them), and they must abide by Coast Guard regulations. This new ruling puts that definition in a bit of limbo since it could be interpreted to classify these house boats as houses. One important distinction, though: the floating residence situation that initiated the court battle had no propulsion, steering, or rudder. This puts it more in the category of a barge or floating home than a house boat. In Seattle, we actually have three different designations for what many people lump together as “house boats”: floating homes, house boats, and house barges.

Seattle Lake Union floating homes with kayaker

Kayaking by floating homes on Seattle’s Lake Union

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Dec

16

The Seattle Times just ran an interesting article about the many positives of the Alki neighborhood of West Seattle, and it includes the balanced negatives of a place that has become over-appreciated and over-populated by many visitors in the summer months.

The lifestyle, views, huge expanse of public waterfront access, shops & restaurants, and relatively quiet neighorhood (for 8 months of the year) are all discussed, including interviews with some representative local residents. The downside of all the appreciation during the summer months (crowding, tight parking, increased crime) are also addressed. This it its cost for being popular and a beautiful place to spend a day, or live a year or more…

West Seattle provides an unusual combination for Seattle, given its sometimes suburban feel, terrific views either to the west across to the Olympic Mountains or northeast to the Seattle city skyline and Cascade Mountains, and its wonderfully long and scenic waterfront walking paths and parks. The shopping is plentiful and self-sufficient. The access to Seattle is good too over the West Seattle Bridge, although it can get congested in peak rush hour times. The people who live there tend to enjoy it immensely and protectively, as its own part of Seattle that is also a separate community “island” across a bridge.

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